Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gmail back, Alcatel-Lucent said to f**k up Lattelecom's network

Gmail, for now, seems to be back, but February 24 is a bad day for electronic communications in Latvia. Lattelecom in a press release is saying that "unsanctioned" work by equipment and systems supplier Alcatel-Lucent on the fixed network operator's intelligent network platform disrupted telephony services in Riga. It was difficult to call mobile phones, numbers that have been ported to other operators, as well as some free 800 and pay per call 900 (phone sex?) numbers.
Why the headline -- it got you to read this, I hope, and I was merely rephrasing what Lattelecom put in more polite terms. Besides, everyone makes mistakes. Alcatel-Lucent is a long time provider of central switches and other equipment to Lattelecom (since the 90s).

Latvia and the world blocked from Gmail

Gmail, the allegedly cool, hip, whatever alternative to other web-based mail services, has been down for a couple of hours, making me wonder whether, after a week of endless error messages last November, I was right to abandon Yahoo! mail for this. Moreover, that was a paid Yahoo service (Ok, only 19.95 USD per year or whatever).
I use my web-based mail for "everything" but try to concentrate my workplace accessible only work e-mail on my job with LETA. So if during a break, I want to check and answer some personal e-mails, I use Gmail and used to use Yahoo.
As the hours drag on and I need to retrieve some important information for something I am doing tommorrow, my loyalty to Gmail fades by the minute. But what are the alternatives? inbox.lv, the purely Latvian site? Or Hotmail? Or are we entering an era of on again, off again, weird for now, back again "free" web based e-mail service? Well, they are not free to those placing (discreetly) ads on the Gmail platform. When I get f**ked for free by Google, these ad clients ar f**ked for their money

Sunday, February 15, 2009

More from the Interactive Institute in Kista, Sweden

Here is more of my video interview from the Interactive Institute in Kista, a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden. The Institute is Sweden' s answer to the MIT New Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts. One of the institute' s creative advisors, John Paul Bichard, talks about the role of the institution and its plans for a project in Tallinn, Estonia in the fall of 2009.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Interactive Institute in Stockholm

Last week I paid a visit to the Interactive Institute in Stockholm, a kind of Nordic New Media Lab (the MIT project that is not as friendly to journalists :( anymore). I finally got around to doing an English-language version of a videoblog (originally posted on www.nozare.lv with Latvian titles and a Latvian intro). So here it is:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nokia 5800: non-review of a roach hotel phone

I don't especially like writing mobile phone reviews,  because it means taking the SIM card out of my working phone (a Nokia N-95) and putting it in a strange device. This sometimes has some unexpected consequences. One phone I tried was able to handle only half of the contacts on my SIM. Enough said that this was a bother.
So when I was offered to test the latest, touch-sensitive Nokia 5800 Xpress Music phone, I took up the offer but gave it to my 13-year old youngest son, who has been writing reviews of XBox 360 games on a Latvian website. 
For various reasons (school work and teenage laziness -- you figure out the relative proportions) the kid didn't get around to writing anything (I was going to post it on my Latvian language blog) by the time the PR agency wanted the phone back.
So now, in a last minute move, I have tried to pack the phone for return and discovered 1) that the side slot SIM card (unlike most Nokia phones to date) is a roach hotel. That is, like in the American TV commercial, the SIM card "checks in, but doesn't check out". (The real roach hotel is a little box with holes in its side, filled with poisonous bait so that real roaches go in, eat, die and never get out). 
I have not been able to extract my son's SIM card from the side slot of Nokia 5800 and I hope that a colleague who also tested an identical phone will be able to help. It turns out that the test phone I got came with two manuals, both in Russian. Great!
Finally, the packaging contains some useless cardboard thing that I cannot fold so that it fits into the box again. What purpose it serves and how it was folded before we opened the box is a a mystery. It is simply a wasted 1/ 1000 of a tree. Maybe look to Apple who has been cutting down on packaging waste?
Anyway, this is not a review of the merits of the Nokia 5800. It is probably a very good phone. My oldest son, 23, whom I met while in Stockholm, says he is considering buying one (he probably wants to carry his music on it, etc.) So there must be good buzz about it among 20-somethings. Meanwhile, I still hope my youngest will write something for the Latvian blog once he gets past whatever was delaying him for the two weeks or so that he had the phone.